Bridges, Paul fuel Suns’ furious finish to snap Knicks’ winning streak

The two players that got away came back to haunt the New York Knicks.

Mikal Bridges, whom the Knicks passed on the 2018 NBA Draft, and Chris Paul, a trade target last summer, delivered the big blows that ended the Knicks’ winning streak at nine.

Bridges and Paul combined for the Phoenix Suns’ last 12 points in a 118-110 win Monday night at The Garden as they wrapped up their road trip at 3-2.

Bridges hit a three-pointer and a baseline dunk that gave the Suns a comfortable 111-102 lead with 2:53 left. But the Knicks refused to fold up easily and cut the deficit to four, 111-107, on an RJ Barrett drive.

Paul took over from there, scoring the Suns’ last seven points to seal the victory.

“The guys have been fighting all year. In the second half, with the score at 113-110, I thought we had a pretty good defense on Chris and he made a tough shot. You tip your hat. And we got to get going again,” Tom Thibodeau said.

Paul’ off-balance jumper with the shot clock winding down took the wind out of the Knicks.

It was a tough loss for the Knicks, who led by as many as 15 and had a four-point lead in the last 10 minutes. But Paul stood tall in the end with the leadership and steady hands that the Knicks lacked.

If there’s any takeaway from this loss, the Knicks could take solace in the way they dragged the second-best team in the league to the finish line despite Julius Randle playing sub-par.

Randle turned from a wrecking ball into a trainwreck. Derrick Rose tried to pick up the slack with 22 points, 10 coming in the final frame, but it wasn’t enough.

After averaging 30.1 points during the Knicks’ hot streak, Randle cooled off. The Suns’ defense held him to 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting.

Barrett had a quiet 17 points on 18 shots.

Reggie Bullock waxed hot early with 12 first quarter points that helped the Knicks lead by 15, 30-15. But he went into early foul trouble shadowing the Suns’ super scorer Devin Booker. Bullock ended up with 17.

Booker cooked the Knicks with 33 points, with the bulk coming in the middle quarters where the Suns slowly chipped away the Knicks’ lead. Phoenix didn’t grab the lead until late in the third quarter.

An 87-deadlock at the end of the third quarter set up the dramatic finish wrapped with playoff intensity.

The Knicks’ defense, usually sharp in the fourth quarter during the nine-game run, faltered down the stretch. The Suns torched them with 31 points in the final 12 minutes.

Cameron Johnson also stepped up for the Suns. Johnson, the 11th pick of the 2019 NBA Draft where Barrett went third, hit three triples in the fourth quarter after missing his first seven attempts. His last two ignited the Suns’ breakaway from a tight 97-96 score. By the time he drilled his third three-pointer, the Suns were up by eight, 106-98.

Then Bridges made the Knicks pay for passing up on him at no. 9 in 2019. They used that pick to tab Kevin Knox who couldn’t even crack Thibodeau’s rotation.

Both Bridges and Paul shot an identical 8-for-12 from the field. Bridges finished 21 points while Paul added 20 and six assists.

The Knicks will wrap up their current homestand against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday before embarking on a tough six-game road trip. They remained at fourth seed in the Eastern Conference as the Atlanta Hawks also lost to the Detroit Pistons earlier in the night.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

 

 

UFC: Jorge Masvidal says he ‘has to’ fight again in 2021; Interested in potential Nick Diaz matchup

This past Saturday at UFC 261, Jorge Masvidal (35-15) suffered his first knockout loss inside the octagon. The man who handed him that loss is also the man who has now beat Gamebred twice in a row, Kamaru Usman (19-1).

The knockout loss was the first time that someone has put Masvidal to sleep with strikes. We have seen Masvidal briefly floored before, but never has anyone completely shut the lights out. Kamaru Usman did just that at UFC 261.

Now, Masvidal is left wondering what’s next. Gamebred sat down with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani today to talk about the fight and what the future holds for him. Make no mistake about it, while he’s hurting emotionally, Gamebred isn’t going anywhere.

“I’ll definitely fight again this year. I have to…As it was, if it wasn’t for this suspension and this knockout, I would’ve been fighting three or four times this year. It’s something I wanted to do. If I can at least get one more fight this year, I’ll be happy.”

It’s clear that Masvidal is still going to be a factor in the UFC‘s welterweight division. He also told Helwani that he wants to wait to call out his opponent because he wants to call out someone realistic based on the welterweight landscape. Although, when asked about Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC), Gamebred said he would be down.

UFC Future for Masvidal

Nick Diaz was in attendance at UFC 261 and Dana White said after the fights that Diaz wanted to return to the octagon. In fact, they were meeting after the event was over. When Helwani asked about Diaz, Masvidal said he would definitely be interested.

“Definitely, Nick is a stud. (If) Nick wants to throw down, I’m more than willing to throw down. Like I said, I’m going to do it on my time. If Nick wants to fight near the end of this year, what can I say, I’m here. If you wanna do right by your brother, let’s go.”

After Masvidal defeated Nick’s younger brother Nate at UFC 244, Nick Diaz told Ariel Helwani that he wanted to get that fight back for his family. He wasn’t happy with the words Masvidal used following the win and he wanted to fight him.

Of course, at one point in the past, it looked like the UFC was putting that fight together. Dana White broke the news to reporters that the UFC was close to finalizing Nick Diaz – Jorge Masvidal at UFC 235 back in 2018.

Of course, the deal fell apart and the fight never happened. Gamebred went on to fight Darren Till and the rest is history. However, with Diaz setting up to return and Masvidal needing an opponent, perhaps the fight makes sense.

Time will tell, but I’d say that Nick Diaz is definitely in the running for Gamebred’s next fight.

New York Giants: Drafting Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith only makes Darius Slayton better

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants are pondering who to select with the eleventh overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. An argument has risen on Giants Twitter based on the team’s reported interest in top prospects. Fans are debating, should the Giants take one of the draft’s top wide receivers or one of the draft’s top cornerbacks?

One of the arguments against drafting a wide receiver with the eleventh overall pick is that the Giants already have a competent receiving corps. New York signed Kenny Golladay as its top receiving option this offseason. Opposite of him will be Darius Slayton in his third season. The dependable Sterling Shepard will move back into the slot.

On paper, that is a solid receiving trio. Behind the top three are a couple of quality depth options in John Ross and Dante Pettis. Fans are arguing that Darius Slayton is a quality secondary outside receiver, which is why the Giants should address a different position of need with their first draft pick. However, I will make a counterargument. Drafting an elite wide receiver talent at eleven overall will serve to maximize Darius Slayton’s talents and give Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense all the tools possible to find success in 2021.

How Darius Slayton benefits from the Giants going receiver at eleven

There are two elite wide receiver talents that the Giants are reportedly interested in at eleven overall. Alabam wideouts Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Devonta Smith was this year’s Heisman Trophy winner and is an elite talent that shattered records in 2020 at Alabama. Jaylen Waddle is considered by some to be the best wide receiver in this year’s draft class thanks to his game-breaking speed and rare athletic traits.

Darius Slayton is currently projected to be the Giants’ number two receiving option as their “Z” receiver. If the Giants were to draft Waddle or Smith, they would move into that number two role opposite of Golladay while Shepard continues to hold down the slot. This means Darius Slayton would fall to number four on the Giants’ receiver list.

Some view that as a negative for Big Play Slay. I think that this influx of additional receiver talent would benefit Darius Slayton and the Giants’ offense as a whole. Having four talented, starting-level receivers on the roster would allow the Giants to run more 14-personnel and four or five receiver sets. This would stretch opposing defenses’ secondaries thin, forcing a team’s fourth-string cornerback to be tasked with guarding Darius Slayton, a potential WR2 on some teams.

It is difficult to find depth at the cornerback position, similarly to wide receiver. But the pick of a wide receiver at eleven would give the Giants tremendous depth at the position to roast opposing secondaries lacking cornerback depth. Darius Slayton is likely talented enough to toast most fourth-string cornerbacks in the NFL on a play-by-play basis.

How Daniel Jones benefits, too

Additionally, having so much wide receiver talent on the roster and on the field at the same time makes life a whole lot easier for Daniel Jones. The Giants’ receivers struggled to gain separation and make plays for Jones in 2020. With such an influx in talent in 2021, that problem would dissipate and Daniel Jones would enjoy slinging the rock to a group of playmakers that could outmatch nearly any secondary in the NFL.

Knicks coach Thibodeau: Randle, Ewing cut in the same cloth

More than three decades ago, Patrick Ewing fell into New York Knicks‘ lap with a stroke of luck in the 1985 Draft Lottery.

Ewing’s star had the staying power that made the Knicks relevant in the 90s.

Ewing had been the face of the Knicks for already a decade when Tom Thibodeau, a young and a rising star assistant coach in the NBA, joined Jeff Van Gundy’s coaching staff.

Thibodeau saw up close Ewing’s blue-collar approach to the game. He was there at Van Gundy’s side when the Knicks 1997 season crumbled with Ewing suffering a career-threatening wrist injury. Thibodeau saw how Ewing survived that fall and rebounded, leading the Knicks to a Cinderella run — becoming the first eighth seed to reach the NBA Finals — two years later during the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

More than two decades later, Thibodeau found his way back to New York, this time at the helm of an incredible rise from seven long years of misery.

Thibodeau has brought New York basketball back on the map. He’s made the Knicks relevant again like the Ewing-led teams in the good old days in the 90s.

Thibodeau found his Ewing in Julius Randle, a 6-foot-8 bruiser that has evolved into a sweet shooter and undisputed leader.

Randle’s combination of bully ball and sweet stroke from the perimeter is currently leading a nine-game winning streak, the franchise’s second-best stretch in the last 25 years.

Before Thibodeau took the Knicks coaching job, he laid out his blueprint on The Platform podcast in May last year.

“How you build a culture is you have to sell your vision to your best players and your best players have to sell it to the rest of the team,” Thibodeau said. “Your first meeting is the most important meeting of the year. You have to begin with the end in mind. What wins in the playoffs, these are the things that you have to do, building habits.”

Culture is the buzzword that hasn’t been associated with the Knicks since the 90s. Not even the brief success they’ve had with Carmelo Anthony at the beginning of the last decade had a culture set in place. It was tumultuous at times. Dysfunction blurred the Knicks’ vision.

Thibodeau changed everything right on his first meeting.

He sized up Randle. He came away impressed. And that set the tone for the amazing season the Knicks are having.

Thibodeau was sold on Randle as the team’s best player. He sold his vision to him, and all the rest followed like dominoes.

“It always starts with your best players,” Thibodeau said after the Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors for their league-best ninth straight win. “If they work like that and it sets the tone for the team. He’s relentless. It’s not an accident that he’s having the type of season that he’s having. His commitment — I saw see it from the moment I met him how committed he was in turning this around.”

A year ago, Randle was the most vilified Knicks player. The fan base was ready to move on from him when the Knicks front office took the slam-dunking Obi Toppin with their eighth pick in the Draft.

But as it turned out, the Knicks were not as ready as their fans to move on from Randle. In fact, the new front office led by Leon Rose, who is close to Randle’s CAA agent Aaron Mintz, was planning to hand the keys to the enigmatic forward.

When Knick’s new VP and senior advisor William Wesley aka World Wide Wes, called up Randle to ask his input on the coaching search, it was clear Randle’s words carried weight like the stars in the league.

That seminal moment empowered Randle’s incredible turnaround, which mirrored the Knicks’ success this season. No one saw it coming except for Randle, Thibodeau, and the front office.

Randle asked for a coach who will make him accountable. He got it.

Just like when Randle came to New York, Thibodeau’s return to the Knicks organization was met with mixed reactions after his flameout in his last stop in Minnesota.

But it took two polarizing figures — Randle and Thibodeau — to galvanize a Knicks team that looked lost for years.

“I think it’s critical for success, and I saw that right away,” Thibodeau said when asked to comment on Randle seeking accountability. “I asked him when I first got hired to come in for a few days because I wanted to see where he was conditioning-wise and get to know him a little bit. When I saw the way he came in and I saw the way he worked, and we had our first conversation, I pretty much knew. And I worked him out, so I felt like ‘OK, this guy has a great capacity for work, he has the ability to concentrate, he’s in great shape and you start there. He’s been tremendous. I’ve said it many times: he’s our engine. He’s been a great leader right from the start, and he’s growing. He’s still getting better.”

Thibodeau had seen that kind of leadership before. Ewing was the engine of Van Gundy’s Knicks teams. He was at Van Gundy’s side, having a courtside view of Ewing terrorizing the league. It can be argued he was the best player in the Eastern Conference, not named Michael Jordan during his time. And that also didn’t happen by accident, even though Ewing was gifted with the size and talent.

“I can recall back in the ’90s when I first arrived here as an assistant, the thing that blew me away was Patrick Ewing every morning in the offseason he was the first guy in the building,” Thibodeau said. “He worked like crazy. He got himself ready, and the rest of the team did the same. That’s leadership. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. When you see an example like that it gives you confidence and it gives the team confidence.”

Randle was just five years old when Ewing led the Knicks’ improbable run to the NBA Finals in 1999. Ewing was already a decade removed from the league when Randle rose into a future NBA lottery pick in Dallas.

Randle wasn’t into Ewing. He grew up in Kobe Bryant’s era. He played with the Los Angeles Lakers legend who patterned his game after Jordan, Ewing’s tormentor.

But on his quest for his own greatness, moving from West to East, Randle finds himself having to hold up to the standard of the former Knicks great.

“It’s amazing,” Randle said when he was told of Thibodeau’s Ewing comparison. “I’ve asked him to talk about that before. He kinda gave me insight into what he saw first-hand. I pride myself on my work ethic. The greats, they did that before. The guy I idolized the most, the guy I look up to, is Kobe (Bryant). His work ethic was top-notch. There’s nobody better at putting the time in than him.”

Randle learned from one of the greatest in LA. He also yearns to learn from one of the best players ever to set foot in New York through the lens of Thibodeau.

The Knicks never had the luck of the draw again to find a franchise-changing player like Ewing. Their constant chase for stars that never came made them the league’s laughingstock and meme.

They always settled for the next best available talent but never panned out in New York.

As their targeted stars — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — shunned them again two summers ago, they had Randle as a consolation.

Consolation was even an exaggeration at that time as media and fans alike frowned upon the three-year, $63-million signing of Randle.

But little did they know, what they had could be their next Ewing.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Three NFL Draft goals the New York Jets must complete (beyond a QB)

New York Jets

The New York Jets obviously need to get a quarterback, but some holes are more vital to fill than others after the second overall choice.

The New York Jets are in a macabre yet inspirational spot as the NFL Draft commences on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network): the past two seasons were so bereft of hope and good vibes that it’s almost impossible to end draft weekend on a sour note.

Hope will undoubtedly stem from whomever the Jets choose second overall in the opening round through a pick that more than likely will be used on a quarterback. But no matter which of the non-Trevor Lawrence passing picks hears their name called…be it Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, or otherwise…they’re not going to transform this franchise single-handedly. Further help is needed and there’s no better place to gain it than by assembling a strong class of his 2021 peers.

What should the Jets’ primary, non-quarterback objectives be? ESM investigates…

Make No. 2 the No. 1 Priority

Unless the Jets make the jaw-dropping decision to start James Morgan or Mike White…or, make the more optimistic but equally shocking choice to wait until later in the draft to choose a thrower…the Jets are taking the new face of their franchise at second overall. Expecting him to completely turn the franchise around is cruel and unusual football punishment. Every move they make from there on out must be centered on making the new quarterback’s metropolitan life easier.

One could assume that means loading up on offensive talent, but that view is misguided. For one thing, the newcomer has several new, knowledgeable weapons to work with (Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, Tevin Coleman). Sure, further offensive adjustments are needed (more on that in a minute) but general manager Joe Douglas knows that a balance through all sides of the ball must be struck to help the team move forward. It’s not exactly beneficial if the quarterback has to constantly play from behind, after all.

“You’re trying to build the best team you can possibly build,” Douglas said in video provided by the Jets. “That’s offense, defense, and special teams. There also is an importance to really doing everything we can to provide what we can to make a young quarterback successful. There is a balance that goes into that.”

Upgrade the Blocking

Had they not traded Sam Darnold, the Jets’ first choice at second overall (or perhaps a trade down) could’ve allowed them to address their dire blocking situation. Despite some big names on the open market, the Jets did little to address their porous offensive line issues. If the season started tomorrow, they’d likely go into Week 1 with the same starting lineup they had in front of Darnold during their opening weekend loss in Buffalo last year. The Jets let up 43 sacks last season, fourth-worst in the AFC. That also did a developing run game no favors, especially for a running back who waits for the hole like Le’Veon Bell.

Douglas has made an effort to address the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. His first moves in office were to trade for incumbent starter Alex Lewis and convince All-Pro Ryan Kalil to come out of retirement. He used his first New York draft pick on Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton, passing on name-brand receiving talent after spending most of last year’s offseason budget on veteran blockers. Only the Becton move appears to be working out thus far, but Douglas has made it clear he views a revamped offensive line as a vital part of the Jets’ potential resurgence.

The management’s failure to make an impactful blocking addition via free agency is a bit surprising considering the importance they’ve placed on blocking endeavors. But this week, and the plethora of picks that come with it, gives the Jets a chance to make up for lost time.

Fortify the Aerial Defense

The Jets can’ just worry about their own quarterback situation…they have to stifle the progress of others. Even if one can say this is a rebuilding season for New York, the foreseeable future likely guarantees a yearly pair with Josh Allen. Another first-round thrower might to go to New England at No. 15. The Jets need to something, anything, to make their defense scary again. Their most recent playoff trips were defined a good blocking foundation and a dominant pass rush. Neither has been the same in the ensuing years of futility.

Passing can’t harm the Jets (who let up 4,409 yards last season) when the opponent can’t get them off in the first place, but the pass rush has been dormant, even with Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers breaking out last season. The interior linebacker situation will enjoy an upgrade with both C.J. Mosley and Blake Cashman set to return while Jarrad Davis brings 4-3 experience. If the Jets do opt to go defense with their other first-round pick (23rd overall), they should use on a 4-3 pass rusher like Zaven Collins. The Tulsa linebacker has shown a great pass rushing ability and strong athletic abilities that will have him off the board by early Friday at the latest. Collins’ work in the Golden Hurricane’s 4-3 set only strengthens the match between them.

New York could also potentially benefit from adding another early name or two to their secondary situation. Young projects like Bless Austin, Bryce Hall, and Ashtyn Davis currently top the depth chart and while there’s potential, it’s fair to question the Jets’ comfort over their potential as Week 1 starters. Prime talent within the first two rounds (perhaps the Jets’ third choice at No. 34) could raise some heat in secondary drills at camp and put the coaching staff at slighter ease.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Daniel Cormier would go back to 205 for MMA match with Jake Paul

Daniel Cormier

One of the biggest stories from UFC 261 had nothing to do with what happened inside the octagon. Before the PPV main card even kicked off, The Problem Child Jake Paul (3-0 Boxing) made his way into the arena.

UFC fans promptly greeted Paul with a ‘F*ck Jake Paul’ chant. When Paul found his way to his seat, he started heckling and nagging former two-division UFC champion and current commentator Daniel Cormier (22-3, 1 NC).

Cormier detailed the interaction today on his ESPN show with Ariel Helwani. DC said that Paul was heckling him so when he had a moment, he asked his producers for a couple of minutes but didn’t tell them what he wanted to do.

When given the time, the former UFC champion marched right over to Jake Paul. There have been a number of videos that show the interaction between the two men. It appeared that Cormier was lecturing the 24 year old.

The former UFC champion said he had a simple message for Jake Paul, “Don’t play with me.” DC said there are certain guys you can play with like that, but he’s not one of them.

Paul said recently that he wanted to box Cormier. However, Cormier said today that he wouldn’t box Jake Paul because he doesn’t need to. However, the former UFC champion would absolutely fight him if he was willing to come over to MMA.

UFC: Daniel Cormier – Jake Paul?

On speaking about a potential fight with Jake Paul, the former two-division UFC champion said the following:

“I made my money as the heavyweight champion of the world. I don’t have to chase a payday. This kid wants to fight, okay, I’ll fight him. But, it will be a mixed martial arts competition. If he wants to actually fight with me, fight me in mixed martial arts. I’ll fight him all the way down at 205. I’m living happy, I’m fat and healthy. I’ll go all the way down to 205 to fight this kid.”

There is no way that Jake Paul would ever fight the former UFC champion in MMA. Jake Paul will never accept any fight in mixed martial arts unless it was somebody with no professional fighting experience.

Jake Paul will not even box a legit boxer at this stage in his career. The opponents he will be fed are all hand selected for him to beat. If Jake Paul were to ever fight Daniel Cormier in MMA, he’d likely end up in a hospital.

I will say this about Jake Paul, he’s smart. The kid has made great money by trolling the world, but he’s starting to enter a world where people don’t play games. The former UFC champion is one of those people.

Personally, I would pay an ungodly amount of money to watch Jake Paul fight Daniel Cormier in any combat sports arena. I know exactly what the result would be. However, we all know that Jake Paul will never take that fight so this potential matchup with the former UFC champion is all just talk.

Yankees’ outfielder Clint Frazier says his recent decrease in playing time has been ‘justified’

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Clint Frazier has started the season with a cold streak at the plate. The New York Yankees’ left fielder took a major step forward last season, especially in the patience department, increasing his walk rate from 6.5% in 2019 to 15.6% last season. This year, it is at 17.2%, but it appears he is taking things to the extreme, embracing an approach that seems too passive at times.

Because he is slashing .146/.293/.188 with no homers and a 53 wRC+, the Yankees have been decreasing Frazier’s playing time lately. That is something the outfielder is not particularly happy about, but definitely understands.

“It’s not fun to not play but if I were to sit back and say that I deserve to be in there every single day based off what I’ve been doing at the plate, then I’d be wrong,” Frazier told the media after the Yankees lost on Sunday, per NJ Advance Media. “I think it’s justified. I haven’t given any production out there in left and if one person can’t, the next person gets the opportunity.”

The Yankees need Frazier to get going

Defensively, he has alternated excellent plays, like the diving catch in Sunday’s game, with others in which he hasn’t looked as good. And at the plate, he has managed to muster only two hits in his last 43 trips to the plate.

“I’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to get this going,” Frazier said. “I put in a lot of work during the game (Sunday) in the cage, literally went right from the batting cage into the batter’s box and I liked the results.”

The Yankees’ outfielder also said he thinks he is experiencing a “slight mechanical issue” in his swing.

“I have like 500 different batting stances, and they’ve all worked at one point in time, and the difficult part is I’ve never really settled into a stance,” Frazier said. “I’m a feel guy. The stuff that I was doing was not working. It was time for me to go back and look at the archives and see what I could do to get in my legs better and be able to get down on time. For me to be able to swing, the little hitch that I have in my swing, if it fires a little bit late then I have trouble connecting on pitches that I would normally have.”

New York Mets Injury Report (April 26, 2021)

The New York Mets have had relatively good luck with injuries to start the season and even saw a bullpen arm leave the injured list over the weekend. Drew Smith left the 10-day IL and went to the Mets alternate site. The right-handed reliever was dealing with shoulder soreness after having an excellent spring training. Smith only allowed one hit in three innings with the same number of strikeouts and figures to rejoin the bullpen when fully healthy.

Carlos Carrasco is progressing nicely from the hamstring tear he suffered in spring training. On Saturday, Carrasco pitched four innings without any issues for the second consecutive outing. Since Carrasco does not have any lingering problems, the focus has shifted toward getting himself ready to make a full start when he rejoins the roster. Manager Luis Rojas said Carrasco is expected to make his Mets debut during the second week of May.

Seth Lugo is being treated very carefully as he works his way back from elbow surgery. He has begun to throw bullpen sessions and expects to throw live bp within the next couple of weeks. The original timeline had Lugo set to return in June, but he can return towards the end of May at his current pace. Since Lugo’s focus is relief pitching, there is no need to ramp him up to throw more than two innings.

Thor Inching Back

On Saturday, Noah Syndergaard pitched in an intersquad game for the first time. Syndergaard’s fastball is not at 100 mph yet, but a stellar 97 is still plenty for Thor. Rojas and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner were pleased with what they saw in the one-inning outing. Syndergaard threw all of his pitches to the five batters he faced. For the next six weeks, Syndergaard will go through a regular spring training atmosphere to get himself ready to pitch every fifth day. If Syndergaard progresses as expected, he will return to the mound in mid-June.

Dellin Betances has proven to be the pitching version of Jed Lowrie as he landed on the 60-day IL with a right shoulder impingement. He made one appearance this season before heading to the IL. Betances struggled to find his velocity or the strike zone during the spring, making him impossible to use in any critical situation. Whether he is actually injured or not, the Mets are buying themselves time to determine if Betances actually has anything left in the tank.

Mets: JD Davis keeps producing with the bat, but is a problem with the glove

After a highly productive season with the bat in which they were among the very best offenses last year, the New York Mets, before Monday’s games, are more middle-of-the-pack this time around.

Per Fangraphs, the Mets are 11th in weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, in the early going, with an even 100. Basically, the team has been average with the bat, which is somewhat disappointing considering the obvious talent on the roster.

Players like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, JD Davis, Dominic Smith, James McCann, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo, all extremely talented offensive performers, play for the Mets.

Yet the team hasn’t been able to fully get going at the plate. Stars like Lindor, Conforto, and Smith have been cold to start the season.

One player that hasn’t had any kind of offensive isues is Davis. The third baseman has really struggled on the field, so much that the Mets often use Luis Guillorme, a superior defender, to man the hot corner. Even routine plays seem complicated to Davis, who is virtually a designated hitter in a league without one.

Davis is one of the very few Mets currently swinging the bat well

But boy, he can rake. Even though he missed several games with a left hand contusion after being hit by a pitch in the Mets’ second game of the season, Davis has virtually carried the offense in the last few days.

Davis is hitting .414/.485/.690 with a Mets-leading 222 wRC+. He has two homers and six RBI, and he had one of the best games of his career on Sunday: 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored, and two RBI.

If Davis keeps playing so well with the bat and so poorly with the glove, he will put the Mets in a difficult position. In the past, he has tried the outfield, but that’s also crowded. If Smith and Conforto keep struggling, perhaps Davis could start seeing some starts back there. For now, the Mets will have to deal with Davis’ unique, yet problematic profile at third base with no DH to hide his glove.

After horrific injury at UFC 261, what does the future hold for Chris Weidman?

Chris Weidman

This past Saturday at UFC 261, there was a highly anticipated rematch in the middleweight division. Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman (15-6) was set to take on Uriah Hall (17-9).

This fight was a rematch from 2010. Way back when they first fought, Weidman got the first round TKO victory. It was just the third fight in the former UFC champion’s career. Both men have come a long ways since then.

It’s been a difficult few years for the former champion. After losing the title to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194, Weidman went just 2-4 in his next six fights. So going back to the Rockhold fight, Weidman was just 2-5 and all five losses were finishes.

In late 2019, Weidman moved to light heavyweight hoping to have a career resurgence. Instead, he was knocked out in the first round by Dominick Reyes. After that, the former UFC champion returned to middleweight.

In August of last year, he returned and picked up a good win over Omari Akhmedov. With that win, Weidman found himself back in the rankings at the eleventh spot. That win got him the fight with Uriah Hall.

By all indications, Weidman was more motivated than ever heading into UFC 261. He looked great all week and the odds actually swung to his favor before fight night. However, the fight ended up being a nightmare for the former champion.

Weidman came right out and looked to be aggressive. He pawed his jab trying to gauge the distance. The former champion unleashed a leg kick that was checked and his leg snapped. The former UFC champion crumbled and the fight was over.

What’s the UFC future for Weidman?

The injury that occurred at UFC 261 is so crazy and a little ironic at the same time. Famously, the same thing happened to Anderson Silva when he had his rematch with Weidman back at UFC 168.

Weidman checked Silva’s kick and the leg snapped. This has only happened three times in the history of the UFC and Weidman has now been apart of two of them. One time he was the checker and Saturday night he was the breaker.

The former UFC champion took to Instagram today to thank everyone for their support. He said that the doctors are telling him it will be six to twelve months before he can train again.

If we take the conservative number there, we likely won’t see Chris Weidman compete in the UFC for about 15-18 months. I don’t believe Chris Weidman’s career is over and he won’t be even 38 by the time he’s back.

However, there’s no telling as to how he will respond to the recovery. There are so many question marks surrounding Weidman’s future. I pray that he’s able to come back healthy, but at this point, no one knows if he will.